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Should You Wait…Even If You’re In Love?

Wait Even If Your In LoveA recent study by Dr. Arielle Kuperberg, an assistant sociology professor at the University of North Carolina, reveals living together does not increase the likelihood of divorce.  Rather, according to Dr. Kuperberg’s study, the correlation has to do with the age that people start cohabitating, whether they marry or live together.

In a direct quote from the press release, Dr. Kuperberg writes:

 “What leads to divorce is when people move in with someone – with or without a marriage license – before they have the maturity and experience to choose compatible partners and to conduct themselves in ways that can sustain a long-term relationship. Early entry into marriage or cohabitation, especially prior to age 23, is the critical risk factor for divorce.”

Basically, couples who, as the common vernacular of the Y generation would say, “hook up” before they are 23, whether they marry or just live together, are more likely to divorce.   You can read more about the study in the Journal of Marriage and Family, where the study was recently published.

Really?  Now this is an extremely earth-shattering revelation to me as a divorce/family law attorney, but I suppose it should be equally earth-shattering to regular non-attorney folks as well. Is she kidding?  I don’t think it takes a Ph.D to figure this one out.   Dr. Kuperberg had to do a study to come up with this conclusion?  Common sense alone would ferret out this conclusion.  Clearly, younger couples who have not had a chance to mature and have not completed college or other post high school training in order to facilitate a career, have a higher chance of failing in their relationship.

Living with someone day in and day out, whether under the bonds of marriage or simply as a personal vow, both involve the same level of commitment.  Most young couples, especially in today’s world, who attempt this commitment without allowing themselves to mature, may not be destined to failure, but the odds are stacked against them.

Perhaps, instead, Dr. Kuperberg should study the real reason for most divorces, regardless of the couple’s age .  As a family law attorney, I am frequently asked this question, often in social settings (where I wonder about the motive of the interrogator, but that’s another issue). My answer is always the same.  No, it is not infidelity and no, it is not money.  Those are symptoms, not the cause.  The real reason is the couple’s inability to communicate.  It is that- plain and simple.    This applies to Y-Gens who are too young to know how to communicate, as well as to some of the most educated and articulate people you could ever meet.

So there you have it.  My “scientific data” is based on 22 years of listening to people come to see me day in and day out who cannot make their marriages work.  Did I do all the testing required to publish a scientific study, you know alpha groups and beta groups, and whatever else I was not exposed to in my undergraduate business classes many years ago?  Nope, absolutely not.  But I guarantee you I’m right.  Let’s wait for Dr. Kuperberg to do that study.  Then I’ll just say, “I told you so.”

The moral of the story is this:  Even if you’re “in love” if you’re young you should wait.  Even if you’re older, learn to communicate first.  It’s not as easy as you think, but it is the glue that keeps relationships together.  If you chose to ignore my advice, then down the road, please come see me.  After all, nobody is paying me to do these scientific studies.


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